Joshua calls for boxing to tackle doping

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Joshua calls for boxing to tackle doping

Anthony Joshua is clear that boxing faces a doping problem, but the former world heavyweight champion is uncertain whether longer bans are an ideal solution.

Joshua was due to fight Dillian Whyte for the second time at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, but that bout was scrapped after his British rival produced “adverse analytical findings”, according to a doping test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

As a result, Joshua will now face Finland’s Robert Helenius this weekend after the 39-year-old was called up as a last-minute replacement.

Whyte’s case, however, is far from an isolated incident, with the British duo of Amir Khan and Conor Benn both failing drug tests in the last 18 months.

Although Benn’s suspension has been lifted pending an appeal by UK Anti-Doping, he is now among a long list of boxers to have failed dope tests, including current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.

“There is a doping problem in the sport, definitely,” Joshua said on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old added: “Boxing is not an institution where you join a club and everything is presented to you, these guys go to local gyms and they are around people who might be doing dodgy stuff.

“I hope it is a mistake (for Whyte), but it shows why I have to invest in these tests, and the team has now got Helenius tested because it is important because this stuff happens.

“It doesn’t fill me with anger, no, but it’s not good. I don’t think we just need longer bans; I think we need to look at it at its root.

“I don’t know the solution, but I always mind my Ps and Qs because I don’t want my reputation damaged.”

Whyte served a two-year doping ban in 2012 and yet still accused Joshua of being ‘the Lance Armstrong of boxing’ in 2019, in a reference to the disgraced Tour de France cyclist.

Joshua, however, insisted on Wednesday: “I get drug-tested all year round. Every quarter, I have to submit my whereabouts and where I am going to be every day, for every hour of the day, so they can turn up randomly.

“I have submitted that every day of my life since 2011. So, I don’t know why I am under this pressure but all these other boxers aren’t?”

Meanwhile, Joshua said a sense of “responsibility” lay behind his decision to face Helenius, who fought in Finland last weekend.

“I also looked at the undercard as well, and I know how much it means for them to compete,” he said, adding: “I didn’t want to let anyone down, my coach, or (broadcasters) DAZN, so it is kind of like a responsibility.”

Helenius, speaking alongside Joshua at a pre-fight press conference, insisted he had not simply turned up in London for the money, having been knocked out by Deontay Wilder inside three minutes last October.

“I am ready to fight,” said Helenius, a former sparring partner of Joshua. “That is why I am here. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

“I respect him; he’s a good fighter. It is going to be glorious.”